First, a reminder that our regular meetings are now on the third Wednesday of each month, at 7pm, at the UNISON offices on Woodhouse Lane, opposite the universities and the Fenton pub. That means our next meeting should be next Wednesday, 21st December. We are aware that many people might be away or busy with Christmas preparations by then, but we do hope enough people will attend to have a productive meeting as we are planning a conference (“summit”) early next year, probably towards the end of February. We’d especially like to have people there from other groups – trade union branches, political groups, tenants groups, housing workers, “service users” and support workers are some of the people we have in mind who will all in some way or other be affected by attacks on housing and housing benefits, or are part of the wider campaign for decent and affordable social housing and for reversal of benefit cuts. Please let us know if you can come.
Secondly, Leeds Momentum is planning a showing of the film “I, Daniel Blake”, towards the end of January (probably on the 21st January, though details have yet to be finalised). The film is being shown as part of the campaign against welfare cuts and to raise awareness of the Labour Party’s policy to reverse these cuts – a welcome change from Labour’s previous deplorable policy of being “tougher on welfare than the Tories” (in the words of a certain local MP). There is a long way to go to change the opinions of the large numbers who are less familiar with the benefit system and only have the media myths about “scroungers” and “skivers” to go on. The purpose of the film is to raise awareness of the cruelty and harshness of the “welfare” system and its effects on claimants and their families, and it will be followed by a discussion of the issues raised.
We are looking for people who are willing to contribute to this event by speaking for a short time about their own experience of the benefits system – eg especially the Work Capability Assessment (& treatment of claimants with disabilities in general), sanctions, the way your life has been affected by benefit cuts etc. If this is something you would feel able to do. please contact Hands Off Our Homes and we will put you in touch with the organisers.
There are also likely to be other showings of the film around the city in the New Year, and we will keep you informed as and when we know more. You may be able to attend a convenient showing local to yourselves and take part in discussion afterwards.
It is worth mentioning – as a separate issue – that we do get requests from the media from time to time, for quotes from people affected by things like the bedroom tax, benefit cap etc, or to be put in touch with affected tenants/claimants. We are aware that people may not feel comfortable or safe talking publicly about these issues, and that appropriate assurances of anonymity might be needed. But if you do feel you have things to say ad would be willing to help the campaign in this way, it would be great to hear from you.